A group of street racers briefly sealed off Highway 12 after midnight last weekend and attempted to turn the highway into their own personal racetrack until CHP officers interrupted the high-speed showdown west of Santa Rosa.
In a scene right out of a “Fast and Furious” movie, CHP officers stopped one driver but a second racer and an accomplice in an SUV sped away in the dark, their headlights dimmed to avoid detection.
One of the racers, in an illegally modified two-door Honda Civic, had a mounted dashboard camera to record the contest, which reached speeds exceeding 100 mph, CHP Officer Jon Sloat said.
Officers impounded his souped-up car for 30 days. They also took the camera, which recorded the brief race, to see if it reveals more information, Sloat said.
CHP officers were tipped off to the race at 12:25 a.m. Saturday when a citizen called 911 and reported seeing two cars racing on Highway 12 between Fulton and Stony Point roads.
Two officers in one patrol car set up on South Wright Road near the highway and spotted two small cars and an SUV approaching the Highway 12 and Fulton Road intersection at about 12:45 a.m.
The three drivers pulled into the left turn lane for westbound Highway 12 and made a U-turn to eastbound Highway 12. The SUV driver stopped, blocking both eastbound lanes of Highway 12 to keep other vehicles at bay.
The two, lowered race cars paused, side-by-side, before peeling out and speeding east, Sloat said.
The officers put on their flashing roof lights and gave chase, pacing the cars at faster than 100 mph.
“The SUV driver had followed behind the two cars at the start of the race and when the officers hit the lights, the Honda slowed and the other two sped off. The officers chose to handle the Honda rather than chase the two speeding vehicles,” Sloat said.
Disappearing down the highway, the drivers who got away had turned off their headlights.
As the officers approached the stopped Honda, they saw the driver toss something out his window. The man was ordered out of the car at gunpoint, the officers reported. The man, who had thrown out his car keys, apologized to them, Sloat said.
Jimmy Dong, 31, of Vacaville, was arrested on suspicion of reckless driving, street racing and speeding. Dong was taken to the Sonoma County Jail and released about five hours later after posting bail.
The man’s car had a variety of alterations — typically done to boost power — and considered illegal by the CHP. They included a performance exhaust manifold and adjustable fuel pressure regulator.
Street racing has come and gone over the years, sometimes fueled with the release of a new movie glorifying the activity, such as the “Fast and Furious” movie series that debuted in 2001. In 2002, two Sonoma County drivers died in separate street racing crashes.
“It was a huge problem about 10 years ago. We had a lot of it happening all over the county. It’s kind of gone away,” Sloat said. “But some people are still doing it.”
He asked anyone who sees street racing or any dangerous driving to contact the CHP.
You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or randi. rossmann@press democrat.com.